The Dunns of Lake Forest, IL

A Family History


James Dunn, Frederick Dunn, and Mary Fincutter

The following lists the first few generations of the genealogy of the Dunn family of Lake Forest, IL. From the following information you should be able to ascertain whether these are your Dunns. If you are, or think you are, one of these Dunns, we would like to hear from you. You can contact Jim Dunn at

The Dunns

The name Dunn is found in England, Ireland, and Scotland. However, our Dunn ancestors came to America from County Sligo in northwestern Ireland. The original immigrant to America was John Michael Dunn. The name Dunn is a translation of the Irish name O'Duinn. In modern Ireland it is usually seen as Dunne, although both spellings were common in the 1850s when John Dunn emigrated. On some of the records in Illinois the name is spelled Dunne, often as written by Irish parish priests. However, our family apparently has spelled the name Dunn since emigration. In 1964, Dunn was the 149th most common surname in America, with an estimated 135,000 people bearing the name (American Surnames, Elsdon Smith, p. 303).

The name Dunn means "brown," undoubtedly referring to the complexion of the earliest Dunns. An ancient family, they claim to be descended from Heremon, son of King Milesius, who with his army of Gauls conquered and colonized Ireland before the Christian era. The Dunns in Ireland originally were in the midlands, especially County Laois, where their stronghold was Brittas, near Rosenallis (Irish Family Names, Brian de Breffney, p. 95). According to More Irish Families by Edward MacLysaght (p. 20) the O'Dunn family was referred to as chiefs in the sixteenth century. Rev. Patrick Woulfe (Slointte Gaedhall is Gall, p. 695-696) describes the O'Duinns as members of Ui Raigain, a branch of Ui Faillghe, and one of the chief families of Leinster. The head of the O'Duinns was lord of Ui Raigain. (Ui Failghe are the descendants of Rossa Failgheach, the eldest son of Cathoir Mor, King of Ireland in the second century. Ui Riagain are the descendants of Riagain, tenth in descent from Rossa Failgheach. The O'Duinns are the chief family of Ui Riagain.)

Margaret Dunn Lane told Bill Dunn that our Dunns had not been in Sligo long. Presumably they had come to Sligo after having been driven off the land in one of the many British attempts to displace the Irish with English settlers.

John Dunn was the son of Michael Dunn and Annie Mulligan. Mulligan is from the Irish name O'Maolagan, a diminuative form of "bald." The Mulligans were chiefs of Tir MacCarthainn at one time. The name is most frequent in Ulster, the province immediately northeast of Sligo. Mulligan is a frequent name in Sligo today.(Woulfe, p. 602)

The Lavins

John Dunn married Catherine Lavin on May 13, 1860 in Meehan's Settlement, IL. Catherine was the daughter of Owen Lavin and Catherine Carney. According to her daughter Margaret Dunn Lane, Catherine Lavin bore the name of her two grandmothers, whose maiden names were Catherine Corcoran and Catherine Hartnett, the previous being her maternal grandmother. Owen Lavin came to America from County Mayo, the County immediately southwest of County Sligo. The Lavin family and perhaps the Carney family (I think the name was misspelled Cearney on Catherine Dunn's death certificate) came from the Kiltimagh area in eastern county Mayo. All of the Lavins and many Carneys in the county live near Kiltimagh.

The name Lavin is only found in Counties Mayo and Roscommon, which are adjacent. Originally O'Lavin, the name has been translated into Hand. The Irish version of the name is O'Lamhain (the "mh" is pronounced "v" in the unusual phonics of Irish Gaellic. Lavin is not one of the 2000 most common American names.

"Descendants of the O'Cearnaigh sept whose territory was in the barony of Carra, of County Mayo, have adopted the name Carney as an anglicization of their name and are still to be found today in the neighborhood of Castlebar." (de Breffney, p. 71) It is also a less common form of Kearney, which is from MacCearnaigh in Irish. According to MacLysaght, although "originally seated at Ballymaccarney in County Meath (in east central Ireland) the name since the sixteenth century must be regarded as belonging to Ulster" (the northern part of Ireland, including all of what is now the country of Northern Ireland). The counties MacLysaght mentions are about 100 miles east of Kiltimaugh. Our Carneys are most likely descended from O'Cearnaigh. The name means "victorious." (Smith, p. 87). In 1964 it was the 833rd most common name in America, borne by about 32,000 people. (Smith, p. 311)

The name Hartnett is more often found in south and west Ireland. The Irish form is O'hAirtneada. (de Breffney, p. 111) County Mayo and other counties in west central Ireland often have names from throughout Ireland because of the attempt by Oliver Cromwell to drive all the Irish "to Hell or Connaught" in the 1640s. Connaught is the province in west central Ireland that includes Mayo and Sligo. This effort, plus other migrations, drove people from other provinces into the more barren West. The name Hartnett means "battle bear." (Smith, p. 87) Hartnett is not one the 2000 most common American names. In 1991, only one Hartnett family has a telephone in County Mayo, so if the Carneys are also from Mayo, we are descended from one of the only Hartnett families in the County. An alternative explanation is that Catherine Carney was not from Mayo, but instead was from somewhere else in Ireland. If so she probably met Owen Lavin in Canada.

The name Corcoran is a form of the O'Corcrain sept, and is ultimately derived from the Irish word "corcair," meaning purple or ruddy. Presumably the original Corcorans had ruddy complexions. The name is not unusual in County Mayo. (de Breffney, p. 79) In 1964 Corcoran was the 1558th most common American name and was the surname of 18,200 people. (Smith, p. 321)

The Early Years in Illinois

The History of Lake County says Owen Lavin bought his farm from his brother-in-law James Carney. However, in a 1965 article about Margaret Dunn Lane in the Lake County Star, he is said to have bought the land from the government for $5.00 per acre. One way or the other, Owen Lavin was one of the earlier settlers in the area. Their land is described in the History of Lake County as being in the S.W. quarter of Section 7, 17, 27 of Deerfield Township, Lake County. This land was south of Great Lakes Naval Station, north of Lake Forest, and between Green Bay Road and Lake Michigan. The Lavin house was a log cabin just NW of Dwyer on the Green Bay Road, which at the time was called Indian Trail. The home was surrounded by woods. In 1965 the foundation and well were still visible on what was then the Poole property. The road was called Indian Trail because that was what it was when the Lavins first settled there. This is now part of Lake Bluff.

In 1850, according to the U.S. Census, Owen Lavin (age 50) and his family lived in Shields Township of Lake County, IL. In the household were his wife Catherine (age 50), children Mary Lavin (age 20), John Lavin(age 10), Catherine (age 8), and Margaret Lavin (age 6), and two women Hannah Lavin (age 50) and Hannah Carney (age 50), who probably are the sisters of Owen and Catherine. Mary is listed as having been born in Canada and the younger children in Illinois, which would put the family in Canada around 1830 and in Illinois by 1840. The Lavins are not listed in the 1840 Lake County census, although they might have been living with Catherine's brother James. The 1840 Census only lists the head of the household.

In the 1860 Census, the household comprised Owen (age 58), Catherine (age 56), Hannah Sullivan (age 30), Mary Sullivan (age 9), John Sullivan (age 20), Catherine Dunne (age 18), John Dunne (age 23), Margaret Lavin (age 15), Hannah Mulligan (age 61), and Hannah Flynn (age 92). All of the Hannahs are listed as having been born in Ireland. John Dunn's mother is given as Annie Mulligan on his death certificate. Hannah Mulligan may be his aunt or his grandmother. Hannah Sullivan is the daughter of Owen and Catherine Lavin and Mary Sullivan is Hannah's daughter. Mr. Sullivan died sometime between 1852 and 1860. The person listed as John Sullivan is probably John Lavin. Hannah Flynn is almost certainly related but we don't know how. According to Margaret Rudd, in addition to Hannah, Mary, John, Catherine, and Margaret, the Lavins had another child who was born and died at sea. This would mean that Owen and Catherine met in Ireland, and implies that Catherine is also from County Mayo. Of course, since Hannah Sullivan is listed as having been born in Ireland, this further supports this conjecture.

Owen Lavin was killed in Lake Bluff, IL on July 4, 1860 by a run-away team of horses. His wife Catherine went to Minnesota with her daughter Margaret, and died in January 1884.

In the 1870 Census, John Dunn (age 34) is the head of a household containing his wife Catherine (age 28), children Edward (age 9), John (age 8), Ann (age 5), Mary (age 3), and Frank (age 1), and Hannah Mulligan (age 78). In this Census Hannah Mulligan is listed as "with daughter", which must mean living with her daughter. If this is John Dunn's grandmother, it suggests his mother also lived with them. If so, she must have been elsewhere on enumeration day.

Ages in the Census are notoriously unreliable, especially ages of adults. As the three Censuses show, Catherine Lavin Dunn aged steadily, while her father aged by 8 years in a ten year period and her mother by 6. Hannah Mulligan aged by 17 years between 1860 and 1870. Generally one person reported for the whole household and had only a general idea of people's ages, especially people like Hannah Mulligan.

Hannah Lavin Sullivan married Frank Rudd after the death of his first wife Julia Bennett. Frank's son Thomas Rudd married Anna Dunn. The Rudd family is discussed in greater detail in under Anna Dunn.

Mary Lavin married Patrick Harrison and they moved to Wisconsin. Mary and Patrick had about 13 kids. Their first son was named John Harrison who married Maggie McDevitt. They had two daughters Catherine (Kate) and Alice. Kate Harrison married Charles Forden, and they had 11 children. This family is the branch of Laura Reich (

Margaret Lavin married James McGuire and the family moved to Minnesota. They had at least two children Nellie and John.

The Dunn Family

John Michael Dunn b. 21 JUN 1831, County Sligo, Ireland, occupation Gardener, m. 13 MAY 1860, in Meehan's Settlement, Il, Catherine "Kate" Lavin, b. 4 JUN 1841, Lake Bluff, IL, (daughter of Owen Lavin and Catherine Carney) d. 9 APR 1920, Lake Forest, IL. John died 25 AUG 1921, Lake Forest, IL. The son of Michael Dunn and Annie Mulligan, both of County Sligo, John emigrated to the United States in 1848 at the age of 17. The Dunns had not been in Sligo long, having been driven there from elsewhere in Ireland. The story of John's trip to America has two versions. Margaret Lane heard that he had been sent to the seminary in Dublin, Ireland and ran away from there. Margaret and Mary Rudd heard that he was supposed to drive some cattle to market and used the money to pay his way to America After his arrival he got a job and sent the money back to his father in Ireland. He had one sister Nora who came to America but returned to Ireland. He lived in Canada about three years before coming to Illinois in 1855. On May 9, 1860, he was married to Catherine Lavin by Father J. Coyle in St. Michael's Church in Meehan's Settlement, Ill. At the time it was a log cabin. Shortly after his marriage he went to New Orleans where he was the foreman on a plantation. He worked for a wealthy catholic family named Haley. John was foreman of slaves on this cotton plantation. When his son Ed was born he came back for a visit and when his son John (Jack) was born he came back for good. About his time the Civil War was beginning and he returned to Canada twice to avoid the draft. John Dunn was a gardener, working for Enos Wacker, owner of one of the many estates in the area. The estates of the meat packing families, the Armours, Swifts, and Cudahys were in Lake Forest. Mr. Wacker gave John Dunn with a barrel of flour at Christmas time for two years after he retired. John died of chronic nephritis. He and his wife Catherine Lavin Dunn had 13 children. The Dunn family in Lake Forest is sizable, and has been for 60 years. Apparently it was said that there were really only two families in Lake Forest, the Dunns and the Baldwins, and everyone was related to at least one. The family has a tradition of working as police officers with a former captain, a former lieutenant, a current lieutenant, and at least one other current officer. Catherine was born in a log cabin on Green Bay Road, which at the time was called Indian Trail. This is now part of Lake Bluff. Catherine died of gangrene of the right foot caused by diabetes. Her left leg had been amputated some time previously because of gangrene. According to her obituary, at the time of her death she had 56 grandchildren and 37 great grandchildren. The tradition of her personality that has been passed down is that she was a tough, no-nonsense Irishwoman.

I. Edward James Dunn b. 8 FEB 1861, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, occupation Sheriff & Auctioneer, m. 11 OCT 1888, in Watertown, SD, Julia Amanda Parker, b. 7 MAR 1864, Delevan, Wisc, (daughter of Elijah Thomas Parker and Bridget Anne Cavanaugh) d. 11 AUG 1954, Milbank, SD. Edward died 17 APR 1939, Bryant, Hamlin, SD. Edward J. Dunn arrived in Dakota Territory in 1881 when he homesteaded near Willow Lake. After staking his claim, Edward Dunn went to St. Louis, where he was a conductor on a street car. He returned to Dakota Territory in 1883, and farmed until 1887 when he traded his farm for a livery stable in Bryant, SD. Ed was the town marshall of Bryant for a while and later the Hamlin County sheriff and the postmaster of Bryant. He spent 35 years working as an auctioneer. In addition to his law enforcement positions, he served as an alderman and president of the school board.

II. John William "Jack" Dunn" b. 9 AUG 1862, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 7-Sep-1862, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, m. 21-Nov-1889, in St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, Catherine Calhoun, b. ?-___-1863, d. ?-Dec-1944. John died 17 Nov 1912, Lake Forest, IL. Jack died of meningitis caused by extension of an ear infection. He was employed first as a coachman and then as a teamster for the last 15 years of his life.

III. Anna Rebecca Dunn b. 11-Apr-1865, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 23-Apr-1865, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, m. 22-Jan-1884, in St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, Thomas Rudd, b. 1-Nov-1859, West Deerfield, IL, (son of Francis Rudd and Julia Bennett) occupation Farmer, d. 1-Mar-1952, Gurnee, Lake, IL. Anna died 12-Dec-1946, Gurnee, Lake, IL, Residence: Gurnee, Lake, IL. In 1832, John Rudd, his wife Jane Richardson Rudd and six sons emigrated from Northumberland, England to America. They settled on a farm in West Deerfield, IL. Frank Rudd, the eldest son of John Rudd was born in 1819. As a young man he purchased a farm in Lake Forest, IL. This property is now the site of the Onwentsia Club. Frank Rudd married Julia Bennett who was born in County Cork, Ireland. Frank, his wife and seven children lived in a log cabin on this farm. Julia Bennett passed away in 1865. A few years later Frank Rudd married Hannah Lavin Sullivan, a widow with one daughter and the sister of John Michael Dunn's wife Catherine Lavin Dunn. In February 1869 Frank Rudd sold his farm in Lake Forest and purchased 140 acres in Warrenton, IL for $2650. Warrenton was later renamed Wilson. Frank and Julia had six children: Bridget, Ellen, Mary, Elizabeth, Jane, and Thomas. Thomas married Anna Dunn in 1883. In 1874 Thomas bought 80 acres from his father for $3200. In 1905 he bought the remaining 60 acres of his father's farm from Henry Hornbustle for $4800. This plus another 40 acres of wooded pasture made up the Rudd farm. The farm was farmed by his children Walter, Frank, Helen, and Margaret until 1974. The last 40 acres of the farm are now leased to a crop farmer, with the remainder going for the Illinois tollway, a subdivion and to a trust.

IV. Mary Ann Dunn b. 21 MAR 1867, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 28-Apr-1867, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, m. 1894, John Patrick Payton, d. Chicago, IL. John: Patrick was a policeman in Chicago. He was killed in a fall from an over-crowded street car. Mary had red hair.

V. Francis Patrick Dunn b. 28 FEB 1869, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 21-Mar-1869, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, m. 19-Apr-1892, in Methodist Episcopal Ch., Lake Geneva, WI, Maria Copithorne, b. 16-Apr-1870, Ireland, Bapt: 21-Oct-1894, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, (daughter of James Copithorne and Mary Swanton) d. 30-Nov-1929, Lake Forest, IL. Francis died 3 JUN 1935, Lake Forest, IL. Frank Dunn was a gardener on Dr. Ashlund's estate. He died of a heart attack suffered while working in his 40th year as a gardener. At the time of his marriage he was a carpenter. Both the Copithornes and the Swantons were from County Cork, Ireland.

VI. Elizabeth Catherine "Liz" Dunn b. 7-Sep-1871, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 24-Sep-1871, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, m. Christopher "Kit" Harding, b. ?-___-1870, occupation Railroad Conductor, d. ?-___-1946. Elizabeth died ?-May-1939, Lake Forest, IL. Liz and Kit had a big house in Lake Forest and took in working-girl boarders. This house was the site of many Dunn family suppers. At these suppers the children received numerous hugs from Aunt Liz and the boarders received much kidding about their boyfriends. Liz is listed as Catherine Elizabeth in the St. Mary's Baptismal Records. Kit was a long-time passenger conductor on the Chicago Northwestern Railroad on the commuter runs from the northern suburbs into Chicago and back.

VII. Joseph Paul Dunn b. 2 JAN 1874, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 17-Jan-1874, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, m. 23-Jun-1895, in St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, Mary Ellen Carroll, b. 3-Mar-1871, d. 6-Jul-1952, Lake Forest, IL. Joseph died 2-Jun-1945. Joe worked for the city of Lake Forest as lamplighter and later as an employee of Lake Forest College. He was also a gardener at some of the estates in Lake Forest. He died of a heart attack. His wife Mary died of a stroke.

VIII. James Dunn b. 4 DEC 1875, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 19-Dec-1875, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, d. 2-Dec-1908, Volga, SD. Jim Dunn went to South Dakota for his health. Apparently he had tuberculosis. His obituary indicates he died of blood poisoning however. It reads, "Jim Dunn, the big butcher who has been around town for several months and off and on has worked in the Frandsen meat market, was taken ill last week with blood poisoning in his right leg and on Wednesday was taken to the Volga hospital. On Thursday evening complications developed and he became very violent, so much so that it was necessary to remove him from the hospital away from the other patients into Dr. Scanlan's office. During the night while he was out of his head he attempted to jump out of the big window across the corner and broke the glass to both the regular window and the storm sash, but before he could make his way through the opening whose in charge were able to get him under control. Friday morning he was removed to the city hall where he was kept until Sunday morning, when he became more rational and it was thought best to take him back to the hospital where of course he would be given better attention than at the city hall. His brother Ed Dunn arrived from Bryant Saturday evening and remained in the city until Tuesday afternoon, when he returned to his home. Later - Tuesday evening Dunn took a turn for the worse and about four o'clock Wednesday morning passed away. The deceased was born in Chicago and was about 32 years of age. The remains will be shipped to Chicago for burial and will be accompanied by the brother of the deceased who was here this week." Volga Tribune, Dec. 8, 1908 According to his obituary he had at least one daughter.

IX. Thomas William Dunn b. 26-Jul-1878, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 3-Aug-1878, St. Mary's,Lake Forest IL, occupation farmer, d. ?-Jan-1951, Residence: Gurnee, Lake, IL. Tom Dunn worked on a farm in Gurnee, IL. He was single.

X. Margaret Dunn b. 12-Sep-1880, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 27-Sep-1880, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, m. in 1915, James Lane, b. 1880, Ireland, d. app. 1919. Margaret died ?-Feb-1968. Margaret met her future husband James at a wedding. When James died shortly after the birth of their son, Margaret moved back with her parents on their six acre farm near the present Lake Forest High School. At first she supported them with her sewing. However, cooking was her true talent and chauffeurs of many of the old Northshore families would pick her up and drive her to some estate where a big luncheon was being prepared. After her son was a little older she worked for a catering firm and helped at big social affairs and weddings from Chicago to Milwaukee. She won prizes at local cooking contests. She was known for her baking by members of the family as well. Her nieces and nephews have mentioned her bread and rolls at family gatherings. Margaret had a wonderful memory and is the source of many of the details about the family before 1860. As one of the younger daughters she and her father had many long talks about family's history and she remembered it to pass it on to later generations. She is remembered as a gentle, loveable, patient woman. She was a small, slightly built woman. James: James was a tradesman who emigrated from Ireland in 1905. He and Margaret met at a wedding.

XI. George Henry Dunn b. 9 APR 1883, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 18-Apr-1883, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, d. ?-Mar-1938. George worked for the Lake Forest street department. He was single.

XII. Catherine Cecelia "Kate" Dunn b. 10 JAN 1886, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 15-Jan-1886, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, m. 19-Nov-1913, in St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, Paul J. Wolf., b. 22-Feb-1885, d. 6-Nov-1944. Catherine died ?-___-1947. Paul was a private in the 27th infantry in World War I.

XIII. Eugene Charles Dunn b. 22-Apr-1888, Lake Forest, IL, Bapt: 13-May-1888, St. Mary's, Lake Forest IL, m. Bridget Renick . Eugene died ?-Mar-1946. Eugene was an employee of the city of Lake Forest.

This page contains the best information at our disposal. We have additional information about subsequent generations, which we will send to interested parties. We would welcome any corrections, additions, or comments. Please send them to Jim Dunn at or mail them to Jim Dunn, 212 E. Irvin, State College, PA 16801